Saturday, April 30, 2011

Comfort in Need from Isaiah

“I, even I, am he who comforts you.

Who are you that you fear mortal men,

the sons of men, who are but grass...?

“... The cowering prisoners will soon be set free,

they will not die in their dungeon,

nor will they lack bread.”

~Isaiah 51:12a, 14 (NIV).

The chapters 40–66 of Isaiah are known as the ‘book of comfort.’ Quite frankly life presents its shrieking challenges and during these times the particular verses above (and others) can bring so much spiritual relief. God is, after all, good all the time.

Can you just imagine the Lord—the Lord of Hosts, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—being on the covenant side of Israel, and indeed on our side today through the Lord Jesus Christ, leaving us to wallow and languish when he’s said these things?

“I, even I...”

It is God himself who booms this from heaven and into our spirits. In this original context God is addressing the people of Jerusalem specifically initially and then secondarily the city. God is asking “why.” Why are you afraid? Do you lack my Presence? I am here, with you.’[1]

And this is it. We do not draw upon God’s comfort because we’re estranged from his Presence—we don’t feel him or his re-assurance. Yet it is there. At times we simply need to be reminded; the fact of his Word. God’s comfort is there and available in our darkest tumult, yet it won’t fix us instantly, removing the pain. Part of our challenge is endurance. The edge, however, is taken from the shrillness of the pain making it bearable.

We will be set free from the dark time, eventually. God will attend to our needs in the meantime, but we do have of hope for the future.

“Comfort, comfort my people,

says your God.”

~Isaiah 40:1 (NIV).

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

[1] John D. W. Watts, Isaiah 34–66 (Vol. 25) – Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas, Texas: Word Books, 1997).

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